Summary: Learn with Esther how to understand and follow the invisible God through the incredible trials and challenges of life.
Understanding God’s Guidance
Series: Letting God Guide You
April 10, 2005
A few months ago, I decided to read and study the book of Esther. If you’ve never read this book of the bible, Esther is the story of how God used one woman to change the fate of an entire nation. However, as I read, I noticed something strange. In every other book of the bible I’ve ever read, you find the name of God or Jesus over and over… but in Esther, you can’t find it! Does that strike you as odd? It did me! A book of the bible with no mention of God? That’s kind of like writing a book on pre-natal care, without mentioning dirty diapers!
Anyway, as I looked into it a little more, I discovered that the book of Esther is the only book out the 66 books of the bible where God is never named. In fact, a lot of people over the years didn’t think it should even be included as one of the books of the bible for that reason.
But I disagree. Because even if you can’t exactly find God’s name… you CAN find His fingerprints on every page! In the book of Esther, we find God working through the lives of 5 people to carry out His will. Even though He’s invisible… He isn’t absent. In fact, that’s really the theme of the entire book. “God’s invisible… but He isn’t absent.” And if you could just remember that, it would help you make through life a lot easier. See, even though we can’t see Him, God’s working in our lives to carry out His will. Guiding us. Directing us. Leading us… most of the time without us even knowing it!
From my puny perspective…I can only see today and yesterday (even then I have trouble). But God can see tomorrow. Our hindsight is almost 20/20, so we’re great at history… but we stink at prophecy. I have no clue what’s going to happen in the next minute, let alone the next week.
But God doesn’t have any problem seeing what’s coming. Augustine put it this way, “Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence”.
The word “providence” actually comes from 2 latin words, "Pro" which means "before;" and "Video" which means "to see." So, providence means "to see before." In otherwords, God sees beforehand and plans accordingly. When we talk about the providence of God… we’re talking about God’s ability to see what’s going to happen, before it happens… and adjust His plans to deal with it.
See, God’s never caught by surprise. He never says, “Whoa! I didn’t see that one coming!” While we have no idea what’s going to happen next, our invisible God is continually, constantly, confidently working behind the scenes to work His plans. We’re down here going crazy… screaming at God, asking “What do you think you’re doing?” Why’d you allow that to happen? But He knows exactly what He’s doing. He blesses us and we praise Him for His incredible timing, but when He tests us, we squirm and question His intelligence.
It reminds me of the way my son Matthew drives. (explain) I’m freaking out, my fingernails digging into the plastic arm rests. Pumping the imaginary brake pad on the passenger side. I’m Screaming inside, while Matthew fluidly, calmly maneuvers his way through traffic. Why? Because his reflexes are 10x faster than mine! In the same way, because God sees in the future, His reflexes are faster than ours… by millenniums! In the chaos of our lives, while we’re freaking out…
Like back-seat drivers, we’re crying out…“God! Watch out for that oncoming truck! Whoa! Here comes a stop sign. While He’s got his hand on the wheel, He’s perfectly calm weaving through traffic with the greatest of ease!
In the midst of all the chaos of our lives, He knows what He’s doing. We’re tempted to take the steering wheel, but the minute we do… we crash!
As we study the book of Esther, there are going to be a few times when we want to scream, God you can’t allow that! God do you see that? But don’t worry, God sees it coming, He knows how people are going to react before they react and He’s got all the bases covered. It’s a wonder to behold! It’s like He’s playing a thousand chess games at the same time and winning every one!
There are 5 main characters in the book of Esther and we’re going to talk a lot about them in the next few weeks… 5 people who were used to work God’s plan and illustrate His guidance… As I describe each one to you this morning, I want you to see how God guides in 5 very surprising ways.